Mallet Finger or Baseball Finger: Causes, Symptoms, Treatment, Investigations
Mallet finger is also called as the baseball finger. In Mallet finger condition the finger gets deformed due to extensor tendon getting damaged. This happens when an object such as ball hits tip of the thumb or finger. Sometimes if the force is immense, a piece of bone may also be pulled away along with tendon causing inability to straighten the thumb or finger.
In general, this is an athletic injury. Baseball, volleyball and basketball players regularly suffer with mallet fingers. Mallet fingers can also be caused due to crushing or cutting accidents on certain types of jobs.
Causes and Risk Factors of Mallet Finger or Baseball Finger
Mallet finger occurs due to the injury in the outermost joint of the finger. Mallet finger separates the tendon at the back of the finger from its connecting muscles.
Generally There Are Three Types Of Injuries
- The tendon gets injured without any fractures or broken bones.
- The tendon breaks with a small fracture caused due to the force exerted at the time of injury.
- The tendon breaks along with a large fracture.
Signs and Symptoms of Mallet Finger or Baseball Finger
The Symptoms Of Mallet Finger May Include
- Swollen, bruised and painful finger.
- The fingertip gets weak and drops down.
- Sometimes blood gets collected or clotted under the nail.
- In some cases, the nail may get detached from its base beneath the skin fold.
- Failure to straighten the joint end of the finger.
Treatment of Mallet Finger or Baseball Finger
- In case of absence of fracture or avulsion, a mallet finger splint is worn for about eight weeks. Splint helps in holding the end joint of the finger in an extended position to aid in proper healing of the tendon. This kind of splint is also recommended for additional one or two months when returning to sports.
- In more severe cases where the mallet finger involves a fracture, surgical correction may be warranted to reattach the tendon back to the bone and realign the fracture or fractures. Pins, wire, and small screws may sometimes be used during surgery to fix the fracture based on the severity of the fracture and the measures involved to fix it. This is followed by casting and a period of immobilization. Surgical treatment includes using the tendon grafts, fusing joint straight, and tightening the stretched tendon tissue.
Investigations for Mallet Finger or Baseball Finger
These tests are performed to detect the fractures or to check if the tendon is torn.